Sunday, September 19, 2010

Three Berry Icecream, Acoustic Soft Parade

Many of the musicians friendly with the group Three Berry Icecream live in that rectangular zone in Tokyo west of Shibuya, surrounding Shimo-Kitazawa, along the Inokashira-line and east of Mitaka. It's a (relatively) green area, with modest homes for the most part, school kids, locally run shops and restaurants, and a feeling of community. Tokyo is a huge metropolis, but inside it are lots of neighborhoods that are like small towns. Leaving those communities, their residents are swept back into the anonymity and isolation of Tokyo's large crowds.

I thought about these communities because I knew that the musicians playing an afternoon gig at Mona Records belonged to them. Living just a few blocks apart, bumping into each other in the local market, chatting on the street—those are important things.

Mona Records is one of those nice local cafe/clubs in this community. I hadn't been there in a while. Before, people performed on the second floor, taking off their shoes to play on the raised floor, in their socks or bare-footed. Now they had taken over an old Go club on the third floor and made that into the performance space. The windows were open and I could see on the roof next to the club a platform to hang laundries, next to a vined wall.

The musicians have known each other for years, giving the event a relaxed reunion feel. Kiyotaka Sugimoto, the vocalist and keyboardist for the late Orangenoise Shortcut performed together with Shunsuke Kida, the leader of Little Lounge Little Twinkle; Mayumi Ikemizu's Three Berry Icecream also featured Little Lounge's violist Keiko Tanaka, Corniche Camomile's guitarist Yasushi Sakurai and Sugimoto.

A third group that played that afternoon, Acoustic Soft Parade, was a happy discovery. They played soft pop with tropical-sounding percussion, and the whisper-voiced vocalist had a shapely, round stomach—she was due the next month. As she sang, little kids screamed in the audience section, but that was fine—it was a crowd that included young parents, and they were used to children. As fans of Shibuya-kei grew up and became parents, time passed in other ways too. Another friend of Ikemizu's, an artist named Bice, had recently passed away, in her late-thirties. Three Berry Icecream covered one of Bice's songs, in memory.

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